Africa-Press – Seychelles. The proposed budget allocations for next year for several more entities including that for the Mayor’s Office, Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation and Public Service Bureau were yesterday scrutinised and approved by National Assembly members.
Public Service Bureau (PSB) – R35 million
Altogether 23 MNAs voted for, seven abstained and no one voted against, thus allowing the National Assembly to approve the budget allocation for the Public Service Bureau (PSB) ‒ an allocation of R35 million ‒ for its operations and functions next year.
Vice-President Ahmed Afif, chief secretary of the PSB Shella Mohideen were in the National Assembly yesterday morning to answer questions and provide clarifications to MNAs on this budget head.
In his presentation, VP Afif pointed out that the bureau is receiving a considerable increase compared to the sum of R16.6 million it was allocated in 2022. This increase is going towards a project to digitise and scan all documents at the bureau and this is expected to cost some
R2.5 million. Alongside that is also a project to set up a human resource (HR) information system. Under capital expenditure, work is to be carried out to refurbish the Attorney General’s Office at National House.
Questions from MNAs on the bureau’s budget included calculations for the 50% of the 13th month pay which will be based on employees’ performance. On the issue, chief secretary Mohideen reiterated that it was high time to introduce a culture of high performance in government. “There is a lot of talk about the need to improve people’s standard of living, putting more money in people’s pockets but the only way for this to be possible is to have a workforce which is productive. Therefore, a performance which is 60% should get the remaining 50% and this is because we want to push for a culture of high performance, based on high productivity in central government,” Mrs Mohideen stressed.
Answering an additional question on the issue, Mrs Mohideen remarked that resistance to the mentioned system is no doubt coming from those people who feel that they will not meet the criteria as they are not performing.
But she noted that aggrieved employees can bring their grievances to their appeals’ committee and subsequently where necessary the PSB will intervene.
Meanwhile, among the PSB’s current challenges, Ms Mohideen said it is for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to set up their results based management committee as the PSB wishes. She said all MDAs have a committee but the challenges are related to lack of capacity in monitoring and evaluation, but the bureau is continuously providing training to address these challenges. A review of the public service orders (PSO) is also ongoing and stakeholders are being invited to submit their concerns with regards to the PSO to be considered in the review which is expected to be completed before the end of this year.
Other Wages & Salaries (Gratuities, Compensation for continuous Service) ‒ R394.890 million
This allocation has also received the National Assembly’s approval after consideration when 27 MNAs voted for it, no one voted against and three MNAs decided to abstain on this budget head.
Giving details on this allocation, Astride Tamatave, deputy comptroller general in the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade, noted that it comprises four big portions which are going towards the payment of gratuities and this is a sum of R45.5 million, an increase of R12 million compared to its allocation for 2022. The second portion of R76.9 million is going towards payment of compensations when public employees resign. The third portion of R131.8 million has been earmarked for constitutional appointees’ emoluments, while the fourth portion of R140 million is for employers’ contributions for all employees’ pension as well as payment of 13th month pay for Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) employees .
Office of the Mayor of Victoria ‒ R6.923 million
Twenty-six MNAs voted for, two abstained and no one voted against to allow the Assembly to approve the budget for the Office of the Mayor of Victoria for next year.
Mayor of Victoria David Andre and other key officials from this office were in the National Assembly to defend their budget for next year.
Mr Andre reminded Assembly members that the mandate of this office remains to ensure a welcoming atmosphere in Victoria, a clean and safe environment for all locals and visitors alike, engage with all who work, do business, live and come to Victoria.
He also expressed the hope that the mission of the office remains to ensure Seychelles has a capital which also has all the elements to characterise it as the “Creole capital of the world.”
Among the different questions raised and clarifications sought, were the mayor’s role, that he is giving more attention to culture rather than the wellbeing and embellishment of the capital.
On these issues Mr Andre noted that his two roles complement each other and together with his staff at the Mayor’s office and those at the department of culture they set their work priorities.
Mr Andre further noted that as his mandate is ending on December 31 this year, he hopes the new mayor will bring forth new initiatives and projects for the continued development, bring more entertainment activities to the capital which will allow him time to focus more on the culture aspects of his role.
Mr Andre also informed Assembly members that he receives only his salary as Mayor of Victoria even though he also holds the position of secretary general of the newly-formed Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts.
The R3 million for the Paradis des Enfant in the budget also had members raising questions and Mr Andre said this is mainly for staff salaries, operation costs among other related issues.
He also went on to detail the small business activities taking place within the Paradis des Enfants, the need for a clearer budget breakdown for this enterprise, revenues it is collecting, Victoria’s twinning agreements with other towns and Mr Andre remarked that the Mayor’s office has initiated several such agreements and it is up to the different districts to initiate different programmes and activities to keep the agreements active.
With regards to rodents control and cleanliness of Victoria, Mr Andre noted that work is ongoing with different partners, namely department of environmental health to address these issues.
While he has admitted that more work needs to be done to liven up Victoria among other challenges, Mr Andre said we have to admit that a lot of good things have happened in Victoria and that he is happy to have influenced government to review the new waterfront developments for Victoria. ‘’This is a big achievement for me and when I leave the office I will be satisfied that I have made a little contribution,” Mr Andre said.
Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts ‒ R137.678 million
The National Assembly has also approved the budget for the Seychelles National Institute of Culture, Heritage and the Arts and this was after 27 MNAs voted for the allocation, one abstained and no one voted against.
In his capacity as the secretary general of the institute, Mr Andre and permanent secretary Cecile Kalebi defended the budget for this entity.
Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation – R120.801 million
Following a lengthy afternoon discussion, 17 MNAs voted for, nine abstained and no one voted against to give the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) its budget for next year.
According to SBC chief executive Berard Dupres, from this sum, R24 million is a grant component for the completion of SBC House while the allocation for the operation of the cooperation is R95 million, a reduction of R7 million compared to the 2022 budget.
Mr Dupres went on to detail some of the ongoing projects and some expected to be completed before the end of the year, like replacing the FM radio transmitters and transferring Radyo Sesel on these transmitters, upgrading part of the DTT system that is now five years old among others.
Meanwhile, Mr Dupres has expressed SBC’s concern at the expected high costs the corporation is expected to incur when it transfers to the new SBC House expected next year.
He said there are no significant allocations in the budget that will allow for the smooth transition, operations and maintenance costs for the SBC in the new building.
He said these costs should not be carried by the SBC alone and he has called for more assistance from government and other partners.
MNAs’ questions were related to a large variety of issues namely the high cost of local productions, challenges to provide AM radio coverage in the southern region of Mahé and other remote areas, and staff related matters…
Seychelles Media Commission ‒ R2.7 million
MNAs also voted to approve the budget allocation for the Seychelles Media Commission when 19 of them voted for, seven against and no one abstained.
Ibrahim Afif, who is responsible for the commission, answered a few questions mostly by the leader of the opposition Sebastien Pillay before a vote on this budget head was taken.
Information Commission – R2.9 million
MNAs also voted and approved an allocation for the Information Commission without any debate.
Meanwhile, today the National Assembly will scrutinise the budgets for department of climate change, department of environment, Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA), department of agriculture, Seychelles Meteorological Agency, Seychelles Energy Commission and the judiciary.